Devils vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Sutter Enjoys Challenge

Wednesday, 09.14.2011 / 12:09 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Sutter Enjoys Challenge
Following an injury-shortened season, Brandon Sutter put up career-high numbers in 2009-10. But head coach Paul Maurice had a different idea for him last season.

Michael Smith
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Maurice had Sutter center the third line, and he often matched up that line with the opposing team’s top line, giving Sutter and his linemates the challenge of stymieing the most prolific scorers in the league.

As a result of his new shutdown role, Sutter’s offensive production decreased by 11 points (14g, 15a vs. 21g, 19a in 2009-10). However, Sutter thrived in becoming more of a defensive forward, finishing at plus-13, compared to a minus-1 in the season prior.

“I like playing against the other team’s better players,” he said. “That’s a challenge for me and my linemates, but at the same time you want to be offensive and score goals. But it doesn’t always matter who you’re playing against – you just got to go out and play.”

Sutter, listed last year at 6-foot-3 and 183 pounds, said that he feels a difference on the ice already this season. (New measurements will be made on Friday, when the team has physicals.)

“I feel a bit bigger and stronger on the ice, and that will help me,” he said. “Every year you try to get more complete – try to find ways to do more at every position and in every place of the game.”

In preparation for training camp – now just a couple of days away – and the season ahead, Sutter has been taking part in the informal offseason workouts.

“We use these informal skates as a bit of conditioning,” he said. “Most of us have been skating for a couple of months now, getting our timing back and shaking off all the rust.”

That rust built up over another long summer, one that saw Sutter sign a new three-year deal with the team that drafted him 11th overall in 2007. But assessing the team’s performance last season, Sutter saw positives, despite missing the playoffs for the second year in a row.

“Last year we came so close to making the playoffs that it’s hard to say we had a bad year. Obviously if you don’t make it, you feel like you failed,” he said. “But we’ve got some fresh faces here, and I’m excited about it. I think it will be a nice change.”

Last year, the Canes traveled overseas for a pre-season matchup in Russia and two regular season games in Finland, followed by an extended Western road swing. This season, even though the team plays its first 6 of 8 games on the road, Sutter said he is happy to stay in North America.

“It didn’t really hurt us much, standings-wise,” he said, in reference to coming home from the road stretch at 4-3. “But I think it’s nice for guys to come here and get settled, especially those with kids and families.

“They don’t have to worry about the mental part about being away from home. It’s nice just to be here.”

Surely, the Caniacs feel the same.

Other tidbits from the informal workouts at the RBC Center:
  • The fans’ first chance to catch Brandon Sutter in game action before the start of the 2011-12 season will be this Sunday, Sept. 18 during the annual Red-White game, a part of the Caniac Carnival.
  • Bryan Allen, Jeff Skinner and Eric Staal were among the skaters on the ice this morning.
  • Mike Murphy and Justin Peters manned the creases today, and each made saves during the 40-second 3-on-3s that received hoops and hollers from a few guys.
  • The skate wrapped up early today, right after 10:30 a.m., in preparation for CanesVision’s last day of on-ice shoots.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
13 CBJ 73 34 35 4 198 228 72
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 68 20 27 -13 47
J. Faulk 73 14 32 -18 46
E. Lindholm 72 16 20 -21 36
J. Skinner 68 18 12 -22 30
V. Rask 71 11 19 -12 30
R. Nash 67 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 69 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 73 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 45 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 37 4 15 -9 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 19 21 5 .910 2.43
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62